Is FCPX a Disruptive Innovation? A Discourse

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by ctakim, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. ctakim, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    ctakim macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Well, I’m no professional video editor by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, I’m a Final Cut Express user so I’m right in that middle range that stands to benefit the most from FCPX. For me the decision to buy was an easy one. But I am sympathetic to the impassioned outcries of the community of professional video editors that is now faced with a product that does not meet their video editing needs. The most emotional of these responses deplore Apple as being stupid and short sighted or incredibly arrogant. A second line of thought has Apple walking away from the small but highly influential high end video editing customer base in pursuit of easy profits from catering to the unwashed masses.

    As a long time Apple watcher who works in a different technology and science industry, I am keenly interested in how large companies manage technological innovation. Personally, I would not categorize Apple as a stupid or short sighted company; rather, they tend to be bold and calculating, but also capable of making major missteps (i.e., MobileMe, Newton, the Cube, etc.). Also they can be annoyingly tight lipped about their future plans, and perhaps there is a bit of arrogance in some of their actions. However, if we assume that there is a rational basis for the current situation, then a fundamental question is why did they release a professional software package for video editing that does not meet the current needs of the most advanced professionals, many of whom depend on FCP for their livelihood?

    Why, indeed. I think the answer is that they view the new FCPX as a disruptive innovation, or at least that is the hope and plan of Randy Ubillos and the Apple FCP crew. Viewed in this context this is a bold and calculated gamble. My analytical perspective is based upon the work of Dr. Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor who wrote the landmark book, “The Innovators Dilemma”. In this wonderful treatise on technology in industry, Prof. Christensen recounts the many failures of industry leading companies with outstanding managers who failed to negotiate technological changes that fundamentally altered their business environment. Specifically, when faced with new disruptive technologies, that did not fit established business models, most leading companies were incapable of surviving the sea of change flooding their industry. Interestingly, most of these new disruptive innovations had lesser capabilities initially, than the most profitable industry leading products. But over time they created new markets and customer bases, and the performance of these disruptive innovations evolved to the point where they eventually replaced the former state of the art technologies. This pattern described the decline of many diverse industry leaders including the mainframe computers manufacturers IBM and Digital, who were supplanted by the minicomputer and finally the personal computer makers; hard disk drive companies were replaced by firms making smaller and smaller hard drives; and the big three of GM, Ford and Chrysler could not fend off the smaller Japanese imports made by Toyota and Nissan. Similar stories emerge from the competition between integrated steel mills vs. minimills, traditional retailers vs. discount sellers, and cable based construction excavators vs. hydraulic excavators.

    Apple no doubt, is familiar with Prof. Christensen’s work and perhaps their actions can be best understood by thinking about FCPX as a disruptive technology. After all, why release a product like FCPX that does not meet the stringent demands of their most advanced customer base? If Apple is intend at abandoning this key user base, why present a preview of FCPX at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in April 2011? If this is not a move away from the professional user base, then it can only be rational if the discontinuous jump to a new FCPX based upon completely rewritten source code will allow much greater performance levels in the near term future than could be achieved by sustaining the present FCP 7 program. Graphically, this is shown by the figure attached, adapted from Prof. Christensen’s book.

    Ultimately, if the new FCPX will be able to do things that are not achievable with the current FCP software platform, then the discontinuous leap to the new disruptive platform makes perfect sense. Where Apple has erred significantly, is by not communicating this intent to the community of advanced video editors and by not doing more to smooth this abrupt transition. It might have been better to create two separate teams to work on the disruptive advanced technology of FCPX while the other sustained the development of FCP7 until a more seamless transition could be implemented. However, devoting twice as many resources to video editing product development might be prohibitive, even for a company as successful as Apple. Furthermore, simultaneously developing a sustaining technology and a disruptive technology is exceedingly difficult to do under the same roof, as amply described in Prof. Christensen’s book. Apple clearly has a challenge in adopting their current strategy, because if it does not evolve into a state of the art video editing package in a relatively short period of time, then FCPX will not have been a disruptive innovation. Instead, it will just be a very nice mid level video editing product and not the state of the art leader for industry professionals. However, as an economic gamble, it is far less risky as either way; it is likely to be a commercial success in the consumer/prosumer market. However, given Apple’s history and the statements of Steve Jobs and Randy Ubillos, I can only presume that their intent is for the FCP platform to be at the forefront of the industry in the next few years.

    Viewed in this context, the decision to release FCPX in its present state is a bold move based upon a very calculated decision. The success of FCPX as a disruptive technology will have to be judged at in at least a year and probably 2 or 3 years from now. But that length of time might be too long, given the intensity of the negative response from the industry leaders in the video editing profession. Therein lies the conundrum of the “innovator’s dilemma.” No doubt it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
     

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  2. arjen92, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

    arjen92 macrumors 65816

    arjen92

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    #2
    I share your thoughts mostly.

    I agree that Final Cut Pro X was a bold step. It has a lot of nice features. But there's a lot of nice features missing too.

    But you're right, time will tell.
     
  3. econgeek macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I think you're mostly right, but I would place FCPX on the "State of the art" point in the graph.

    I disagree that the people complaining are "professional" editors or "the most advanced" users. They are not, and that is why they are complaining. They are the assistants, the people for whom editing is a skill they picked up with training, not a talent they have.

    IF they genuinely were editors, they would appreciate a radically better editing solution. They are not editors and that is why they are complaining.

    This is also why they claim to be "pros". I've seen this with cameras. In the video area there are a lot of people who really don't understand technology. They're like your grandma using "the facebook". They don't get it, but they've been trained to use it... so when something changes they don't know how to cope because they don't know how to comprehend what they are seeing.

    They can't appreciate the better editing solution because they don't really edit. They work for people who edit.

    They are the least advanced users and they are generally hostile to technology. They are the teamsters of the creative scene.
     
  4. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #4
    From an academic perspective I think this is an interesting discussion to have because Apple has seemingly done everything wrong in rolling out FCP X, IMO.

    As a quick aside though I don't think IBM is the best example to user for 'victims' of the Inventors Dilemma. They have been around 100 years and gone from punch cards, to computers the size of houses, to personal computers to supplying back-end for the Cloud. Sure they have been slow to adopt in some areas but overall IBM has done a good job of maintaining the philosophy that it ultimately sells a service or a solution and not a specific product.

    Coming back to FCP X, the more tidbits I read the more I feel like this is either typical Apple 'innovation' pushed a little too far by hubris or a poorly thought out exit from the professional marketplace as the primary focus of FCP. The breadth and depth of initial damage done by FCP X is down right staggering to me. I don't think the Inventor's Dilemma is really applicable here because there really isn't a revolutionary shift going on. This isn't the shift from editing film to linear videotape editing or the shift from linear videotape editing to nonlinear editing. Going from tape to tapeless is more of an evolutionary step than anything and you can seamlessly dovetail the two together. The tapeless workflow is actually a kind of hybrid in the NLE world of editing for movies/film and editing for TV.

    I made the hubris comment in part because Randy Ubillos has reportedly said that he didn't think being unable to open older FCP projects would be an issue and that they know how important multicam is and are working on how best to implement it in FCP X. How does the thought even cross your mind that being locked out of previous FCP projects is no big deal and if you know that multicam is important why treat it is a tacked on feature instead of as a core function?

    The lack of clear communication from Apple is another thing that is feeding the fire. Like you said, there seem to be a lot of mixed messages coming from Apple. Why make a disruptive, last minute presentation at NAB and have new features like 4K support and rigging but then remove a host of required broadcast features? Apple realized that dramatic move to iMovie '08 would upset it's customers so it continued to offer and support iMovie 6. Wouldn't be a plausible assumption that making an even more dramatic shift to your professional user base would cause an even greater uproar? Yet Apple requested retailers to return copies of FCS and software updates for FCS on Apple.com are now redirecting to the FCP X page.

    Part of the emotional reaction from users is very understandable, IMO. Many editors are diehard Mac fans (Avid tried to go PC only years ago and quickly back-peddled due to outcry from their Mac user-base) and have been working with two chips on their shoulders for a long time. The first chip comes from defending their professional platform of choice against the Wintel crowd when Apple had like 1.5% market share and Moto was slowly killing the PowerMac line w/the aging G4 chip. The second chip was choosing to use FCP at a time when "real editors" used Avid. These editors had to do a lot of leg work to get people to believe that Apple made hardware and software that could go toe-to-toe with anything else out there. And by the time FCP got to version 6 they were right. FCP was still looked down upon by some but no one in their right mind could deny that Apple wasn't making competitive at a killer price. Not to metion that the addition of Color brought a high-end color grading app to the masses for no extra charge.

    Then version 7 hit and it felt more like slight bump-up but nothing worthy of a full two year update cycle. Some apps didn't even get a full version bump (Color went from 1.x to 1.5 and DVD SP still remained at 4.x like it had for the past 4 years). The iPhone and iOS seemed to be Apple's main focus and the speculation that Apple would leave the pro markets to focus solely on the consumer realm ramped up quickly. After years of defending Apple and saying their products are just as good for pro use as any thing out there many of these diehard fans, many of these Apple evangelists, felt cut-off at the knees by FCP X and it's apparent focus on the consumer market.

    Personally I thought Apple, having solidified a foothold in the emerging mobile computing market would pleasantly surprise us w/the new FCP. Sure, it would be missing some features because it's a square-one rewrite but they'll surely support FCP 7 until X is up to snuff. Boy was I wrong. FCP X is unusable for common professional workflows and FCP 7 support seems to have gone up in smoke. Apple may still come around but FCP X is too little too late. People have to make business decisions and can't wait indefinitely in hopes that Apple will update FCP X to the point of usability.

    econgeek,
    I think your assumption about who is really unsatisfied w/FCP X is way off base. Editors, experienced editors that know multiple NLEs and aren't afraid of change, are giving FCP X a thumbs down because in it's current state it's unusable to them. It can't interface w/other software commonly used in post production. It can't send an accurate, full quality video signal out to a broadcast monitor or deck. It can't be used in shared storage environments. There's currently no implementation for volume licensing and everything is tied to an individual's iTunes account. Apple Color kicked off desktop color correcting the same way FCP kicked off desktop editing and DVD Studio Pro kicked off desktop DVD authoring. Now DVD SP and Color are dead programs. DVD SP being officially dropped was a long time coming but Color being dropped came as a shock to many. Epically people that built small shops offering affordable, high quality color grading based around Apple Color. I wasn't surprised though because they did the same thing to Shake and Color had received little attention from Apple in the 4 years the app was available.

    Also, your apparent disdain for assistant editors shows a complete lack of understanding of the skill-set and knowledge it takes to be a solid AE nor how important their roll is in post production.

    Are there people that don't like new things, including FCP X, just because they are different? Sure. But that doesn't make the legit complaints any less legit. In over 10 years in this industry I've seen companies piss their user base off on multiple occasions but I've never seen anything even remotely close to what Apple has just done. Honestly, after a couple days I thought it would start to die down but it only seems to be getting worse.


    Lethal

    EDIT: Apologies for the novel.
     
  5. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #5
    Make that: "But there's a lot of essential features missing too." and I'll agree with you. Simple things like proper monitoring and multicam are not "nice", they are essential. For example, before multicam came to FCP (in 2006 IIRC) there were all sorts of workarounds and additional software to make it happen. Multicam made FCP that bit more grown up and usable. It is worth noting that multicam is one of the few differences between FCP and FCE.

    What should be disruptive is the interface - the way of thinking about doing things. This I think it has achieved and we will be better off for it. But FCP X must play well with others. You can disrupt an interface, but disrupting an entire studio workflow and isolating your system from millions of dollars worth of equipment is a recipe for, well, angry blogging.
     
  6. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I watched Larry Jordan's Q&A at the London Supermeet and got the impression Apple were expecting some amount of backlash. Maybe there's a side of Apple that sees itself as an oracle, and if they're not releasing products people don't get straight away, they're not being the great innovators they know they are.

    What's only come to me in the last few days is that it's not just that they previewed FCPX at NAB, it's that they previewed it at all. It's a very rare that Apple do that for applications, and it could only have been to appease the restless "pro" crowd, as these were the ones demanding a new FCP. Surely, Apple must feel this is a product for that crowd. That said, I'm not sure why they didn't wait for Lion. It would've better aligned with FCPX being a product on the bleeding edge, and given them more time to work on what they're presumably thrashing away at now anyway.

    On the subject of the hysteria: I think there are a bunch of things fuelling it.

    There's a bandwagon in motion, with eople are thinking: pro's hate FCPX, and I want to present myself as a pro, so I'll join in the bashing without having a clue what I'm on about.

    Then there's the panic. FCP allowed you to work at anywhere in the industry. Now people are looking at what's happening and thinking that even if they feel they can work with FCPX, other people won't be, and the exodus to Premiere and Media Composer will force them to pick a side, and with it perhaps a certain segment of the industry.

    And the of course there's the Greece effect... If you have any desire to go a little *******, now's a great time.

    Editing is not just craft. Logistics are an unavoidable part.

    Furthermore, I'm not convinced by having the Magnetic Timeline as the only way to edit. I say this without having used it myself, but I'm not convinced it's the best way for all types of editing, and I think FCPX should have a way of toggling between it and the old-school track system.
     
  7. ctakim thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Again, I'm not an advanced user, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find many folks who would agree that the current 1.0 version of FCP X is state of the art. Also, I think you are being a bit too harsh on the folks who are genuinely upset by this release. Those who earn a livelihood from these tools, and who find they cannot use them in the current incarnation due to lack of features, not because of an unfamiliar interface, have a legitimate reason to be unhappy. My main point is whether they will be similarly unhappy if and when FCP X evolves to meet their basic needs.
     
  8. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #8
    Walter Biscardi.
     
  9. ctakim thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Lethal, don't apologize for the length of your post, it is about the same as my original!

    Also, the IBM example is informative, as they did survive as a company when virtually all other mainframe manufacturer's went out of business. They did this by creating a successful PC computer business that was set up as a largely independent spin out based in Boca Raton, FL, far from corporate headquarters. They also evolved to the present day services company which is far from their origins as a hardware manufacturing company. In many ways they are an exception that proves the rule. Prof. Christensen describes this in much better detail than I can do justice to in his book.

    I hope that Apple can do something to allay the fear and consternation that they have engendered in the professional community. I can't help but think that they could pursue this strategy and still not make it such an abrupt transition for their core faithful followers.
     
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #10
    Although I'm not a video editor, I have a few friends who are and work on high end productions who share your same thoughts.

    Although FCPX isn't a complete solution for any of them at the moment, they were all extremely excited about the new features and are exited to see what will come in the future.

    I especially agree with the statement about people claiming to be pros but get angry if something changes because they don't understand the technology. A poor artist blames his tools. A real pro uses what he has to get the job done and still produces an excellent result. People were making excellent video productions without all these tools years ago.
     
  11. theWholeTruth macrumors member

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    #11
    What factual evidence do you have that the complaints are not coming from 'pros'? I would really like to know because all I read in your comment is biased innuendo masked as mud-slinging.

    What I know based on my 'pro' status, as well as the 'pro' status of my colleagues, is this (and by no means take this as any sort of accurate sampling of the larger demographic): Everyone has been waiting in anticipation and excitement for the new 'version' of FCP. Even after the sneak peek we we still felt excitement with a slight hesitation. None of us 'pros' can, at this time, use the program for various reasons. We tried, but the program failed us.

    We are editors who know our craft. We know our technology. We are not afraid of change as we all originated from AVID and migrated to FCP. We constantly desire a better editing software program. We editors have to cope with change more than any other member of the filmmaking process. We edit because that is what we love to do to make a living to support ourselves and our families.
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #12
    You friends don't want to use FCP X because it doesn't meet their needs. Poor artists blame their tools. Does that mean you think your friends are poor artists? ;)

    If you give someone a car up on blocks w/the promise that the wheels are on the way said person has a pretty valid excuse for not winning the race, IMO.

    You are right. And professional linear editing systems from 20 years ago could output a proper video signal which is something FCP X currently cannot. They could also control tape decks. Which currently FCP X cannot. They could also import/export EDLs to pass off to other people in the post production chain. Which currently FCP X cannot. Noticing a trend here?

    Are some people upset because the GUI, keyboard commands, terminology and pretty the whole way the program works have changed? Sure. But most professional editors can take this in stride because learning new apps is common place. The two things that really seem to get people is that regardless of how many cool new things are in FCP X the things they took out of are showing stopping omissions and the ability to purchase FCS and support for FCS are going up in smoke. So Apple is basically forcing peoples hand. Either plan moving your business over to FCP X which currently has big problems and no road map of when those problems will be address or plan on moving your business over to Avid or Adobe. Premiere, BTW, does a remarkably good job of opening up projects from FCP 7 and earlier. Something which currently FCP X cannot do.


    Lethal
     
  13. hsilver macrumors regular

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    #13
    econgeek, of all the rants about FCPX I've seen in past 5 days, yours is the most ridiculous and ill-informed.

    If you look at any of the editing sites on the web or the FinalCutPro-L or AVID-L groups on Yahoo you'll see a wide array of some of the most talented professionals discussing FCPX and with a range of degree - all are angry and frustrated with FCPX's lack of necessary features and dumbing down.

    As an EMMY award winning editor who's edited on film, video, EditDroid, Ediflex, Montage, EMC, AVID and FCP –from version 1.25 –who is right now editing a short video for a website on FCPX, I can assure you that while FCPX has some brilliant interface innovations and efficiencies it is sorely lacking in the features necessary to work on broadcast programs. It's been laid out in great repetitive detail. It's a critical issue for professional editors depending on workable solutions.

    You have no idea what you are talking about.
     
  14. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #14
    Lol that did come off kind of strange. They all have it at home and are using it but cannot use it at work. I was more suggesting how people on the internet call themselves "Pros" but can't adapt to new technology.

    Even though the current FCPX is missing a lot of functionality right now I am sure people will be happy as soon as the missing stuff gets implemented.
     
  15. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #16
    Stop posting this video everywhere, it's a dead link...:rolleyes:
     
  16. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #17

    Wrong, those of us who do this professionally and make a living at it are already starting the transition to Avid or Adobe because THEY HAVE ROADMAPS!!! We know what they are going to do instead of getting the rugs pulled out from under us like Apple did.
     
  17. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #18
    What's coming in CS6?
     
  18. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #19
    Hell if I know, my contact there is hush hush, but he's chuckling about the Apple situation. Adobe's not stupid enough to pull the same stunt Apple did. They understand their market because it's the ONLY audience they have.
     
  19. haiggy macrumors 65816

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    #20
  20. iphonepiephone macrumors regular

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  21. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

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    #22
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    What was it like to use EditDroid? Always wanted to see one.
     
  22. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #23
  23. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    #24
    Watch this carefully and you'll know what is coming in CS6

    Watch how Adobe presents what they are doing compared to the information we DIDN'T get from Apple. Especially illuminating at 3 minutes in...
     
  24. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #25
    Forward that to Steve...
     

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